For which parts of Germany and for which time periods are the use of plant protection products correlated with a higher environmental risk? How are extensively used habitats distributed in agricultural landscapes and where are the shortcomings? What are the habitat requirements for farmland birds and how are they compatible with agricultural management measures? Many questions and issues require quantifiable solutions, in both spatial and temporal terms.
Spatial analysis and modelling provide the basic methodological approaches. Various groups of the Institute work with these tools to answer different research questions. With spatial analysis different characteristics of the agricultural landscape can be characterized and quantified. Specialised techniques such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing are ideal for this purpose.
Extensive geodatabases often emerge from the spatial analysis in this context. A key example is the “Index of regional proportions of ecotones”. It provides an important basis for a landscape-dependent risk management in crop protection and is derived from our Institute's database. The regional classification "Soil-climate regions of the Federal Republic of Germany", developed by the Institute together with the Federal States, is a testimonial for the numerous applications.
A great deal of these and related information is available for study to farmers, politicians and interested users as digital maps in the JKI Geoportal or for use in the form of specific GIS applications, such as the online knowledge portal on wild and honey bees "GeoBee" (both portals in German language).
Other GIS applications are interrelated with the development and use of the model SYNOPS (especially in the decision-support system Hot-Spot Manager North Rhine-Westphalia) and in the assessment of a possible influx of pesticides in small water bodies. For example, information on the habitat requirements of farmland bird species - in connection with digital landscape models – serve to derive recommendations for promoting biodiversity.
For the holistic assessment of farming systems and the further development of alternative cropping strategies, the Institute usually uses model-based methods. Thus, with statistical analysis and process-based plant growth models, we assess the interactions and effects of biotic and abiotic stress factors on yield.
Likewise, we employ these methodological approaches to analyse the effects of temperature and land use intensity on the floristic diversity in the context of climate change on European agricultural landscapes.